Normally if you're concerned with ice at a hotel, it's locating the nearest machine to your room. There was a different concern for guests at two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix, Arizona -- that employees were calling ICE to report guests who may be in the country illegally.
A recent news investigation found at least 20 Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests made at those locations, and some of those arrested claim no one else knew they were there. So how did immigration enforcement know?
The Phoenix New Times broke the story, recounting the tale of Manuel Rodriguez-Juarez, who checked into a Motel 6 on I-10 after an argument with his girlfriend:
The front-desk clerk told him that he needed to show identification in order to reserve a room. Rodriguez-Juarez handed over the only thing he had -- a Mexican voter ID card. Six hours later, he was lying on the bed, watching TV, when he heard a knock at the door. He opened it. Three agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement were waiting for him.
According to Rodriguez-Juarez's attorney, Jaun Rocha, is wondering how those agents tracked down his client. "I'm thinking to myself, how would they know that?" Rocha said. "The client said he gave them a Mexican ID card -- but there's people who visit the U.S. all the time who have Mexican IDs. How does that establish that you're here without authorization?"
Put on ICE
While neither ICE, nor Motel 6 would confirm information sharing on the record, but an anonymous front-desk clerk told the New Times, "We send a report every morning to ICE -- all the names of everybody that comes in ... Every morning at about 5 o'clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE." While law enforcement can't compel hotels to share guest information without a warrant, hotels may do so voluntarily, and another Motel 6 employee hinted that arrests at the motel are standard practice: "I don't know how it works, but if you check in and you have a warrant, you're going to get picked up."
That could be ending, however. Hours after the New Times' report, Motel 6 announced it will stop sharing guest information with ICE.
If you've been picked up by ICE, know your rights, and contact an experienced immigration attorney.